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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

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THE training and instruction of the young for the business of life
is one of the most ancient concerns of mankind. Far back in
remotest prehistory, when man was slowly emerging out of
brutehood with the help of a feeble but growing social tradition,
learning was doubtless in large measure a matter of experience
and imitation- But even so early as the later palaeolithic age, when
the first true men lived in Europe, there must have been a more
or less deliberate education. Achievements in art so perfect as
thosfc which appear in the best of the animal pictures engraved on
horn and ivory or drawn on cave walls could only have been
attained by definite teaching. Concerning the Why and the How
of this teaching we can never hope to know anything, and can
only speculate whether, like the wall-paintings, it may not have
had its origin in some religious impulse. It is not till we come
farther down the course of time into the neolithic age, and can
reconstruct the past from the lore common to all the oldest
literatures, and from our knowledge of contemporary aborigine*
like the Australians, who are still neolithic, that we begin to touch
firm ground. The main educational fact in savage and semi-
savage life is the universal association of the initiation ceremonies
by which young people are inducted into manhood or woman-
hood, with specific training in adult customs and obligations*
Then at a time much later, and yet thousands of years ago,
civilisation grew up through slow centuries in the river valleys of
Egypt and Babylonia* The ritual of initiation lost much of it*